Tim Eyman surrounded by NO on I-976 signs
Tim Eyman speaks as opponents of Initiative 976 hold up signs opposing his scheme to wipe out billions in bipartisan, voter-approved transportation investments (Seattle Channel)

With a lit­tle less than a month to go until Gen­er­al Elec­tion Day 2019, the Seat­tle City Coun­cil took a deci­sive stand against Eyman’s I‑976 Mon­day by pass­ing a res­o­lu­tion denounc­ing the mea­sure and its dev­as­tat­ing consequences.

The vote was 7–0 in favor of adop­tion. Coun­cilmem­bers Mike O’Brien and Lore­na González were not present in per­son at the meeting.

The res­o­lu­tion reads:

A RESOLUTION oppos­ing Wash­ing­ton Ini­tia­tive Mea­sure 976 (“I‑976”) and urg­ing Seat­tle vot­ers to vote “No” on I‑976 on the Novem­ber 5, 2019, gen­er­al elec­tion ballot.

WHEREAS Wash­ing­ton Ini­tia­tive Mea­sure 976 (here­inafter, “I‑976”) would under­mine progress made by The City of Seat­tle, Sound Tran­sit, and the State of Wash­ing­ton in build­ing a more equi­table and sus­tain­able trans­porta­tion sys­tem that responds to the chal­lenges posed by the region’s extra­or­di­nary growth, an ongo­ing cli­mate cri­sis, and past fail­ures to build a mass tran­sit sys­tem that could effi­cient­ly and cost effec­tive­ly serve the needs of Seat­tle in the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry, by elim­i­nat­ing major fund­ing sources for light rail expan­sion, bus ser­vice in Seat­tle, and the pri­ma­ry sources of non-high­way spend­ing at the state lev­el; and

WHEREAS I‑976 would repeal fund­ing author­i­ty for all or sub­stan­tial por­tions of trans­porta­tion ben­e­fit dis­tricts in Seat­tle and 61 oth­er cities across Wash­ing­ton State, a sum of $60 mil­lion per year that is large­ly ded­i­cat­ed to improv­ing safe­ty and main­tain­ing infra­struc­ture and, as in Seat­tle, to reduc­ing crowd­ing and expand­ing access to bus ser­vice; and

WHEREAS I‑976 is intend­ed to elim­i­nate $24 mil­lion per year in Seat­tle Trans­porta­tion Ben­e­fit Dis­trict fund­ing pri­mar­i­ly ded­i­cat­ed to addi­tion­al bus ser­vice for Seat­tle rid­ers that helps alle­vi­ate over­crowd­ing; adds more speed and reli­a­bil­i­ty; and pro­vides more all-day, evening, and week­end bus ser­vice acces­si­ble to more Seat­tle neigh­bor­hoods; and

WHEREAS Seat­tle Tran­sit Ben­e­fit Dis­trict-fund­ed expan­sion of bus ser­vice has allowed Seat­tle to absorb much of its growth via tran­sit rather than addi­tion­al cars, pro­vid­ing 350,000 new annu­al ser­vice hours ‑the equiv­a­lent of 8,000 week­ly bus trips or 79 bus­es run­ning 12 hours per day 365 days a year — capac­i­ty for 106,032 addi­tion­al bus rides per day on bus routes serv­ing Seat­tle, pro­vid­ing ten-minute or bet­ter all-day bus ser­vice with­in a ten-minute walk to 70 per­cent of Seat­tle house­holds (up from 25 per­cent in 2015); and

WHEREAS I‑976 would also elim­i­nate or reduce fund­ing now ded­i­cat­ed to low-income tran­sit access and ORCA pass­es to all Seat­tle pub­lic high school stu­dents, Seat­tle Promise Schol­ars, and income-eli­gi­ble mid­dle school stu­dents; and

WHEREAS I‑976 would also elim­i­nate near­ly $8 mil­lion per year in fund­ing ded­i­cat­ed to City trans­porta­tion pro­grams that include pot­hole repair and neigh­bor­hood street main­te­nance, pro­tect­ed bike lanes, safer pedes­tri­an cross­ings, fre­quent tran­sit cor­ri­dor improve­ments, and the Seat­tle Depart­ment of Transportation’s pro­gram to improve acces­si­bil­i­ty for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties; and

WHEREAS I‑976 is intend­ed to elim­i­nate $20 bil­lion in fund­ing for expan­sion of light rail to West Seat­tle and Bal­lard, along with oth­er ele­ments of the 2016 vot­er-approved Sound Tran­sit 3 mea­sure; and

WHEREAS I‑976 would elim­i­nate the pri­ma­ry sources of state fund­ing for safe­ty improve­ments and non­high­way modes of trans­porta­tion, includ­ing pas­sen­ger rail ser­vice con­nect­ing Seat­tle with Port­land and Van­cou­ver; $1.3 bil­lion in fer­ry ves­sel improve­ments; $15 mil­lion per year in Wash­ing­ton State Patrol safe­ty pro­grams; $50 mil­lion per year in region­al tran­sit mobil­i­ty grants; a mul­ti­tude of freight mobil­i­ty and high­way safe­ty projects; state fund­ing for Safe Routes to Schools and oth­er bike and pedes­tri­an safe­ty invest­ments; and state fund­ing for spe­cial needs tran­sit that serves seniors, vet­er­ans, and people
with dis­abil­i­ties; and

WHEREAS, pas­sage of I‑976, even if it might even­tu­al­ly be repealed by the courts, could tie up fund­ing for local bus ser­vice, light rail expan­sion, and state pro­grams for sev­er­al years, grind­ing to a halt progress on address­ing Washington’s growth, safe­ty, equi­ty, cli­mate, and traf­fic needs, delay­ing projects and poten­tial­ly cre­at­ing finan­cial tur­moil for Sound Tran­sit with bond mar­kets; and

WHEREAS, Puget Sound res­i­dents have vot­ed to tax them­selves to address their own trans­porta­tion needs by build­ing light rail for traf­fic relief, improv­ing safe­ty and main­te­nance of the exist­ing right-of-way, and expand­ing bus access; and

WHEREAS, after notice in accor­dance with RCW 42.17A.555 and Seat­tle Munic­i­pal Code Sec­tion 2.04.300, per­sons in favor of I‑976 and those opposed to it have been giv­en an equal oppor­tu­ni­ty to share their views in an open pub­lic meeting;


Sec­tion 1. The May­or and Seat­tle City Coun­cil urge Seat­tle vot­ers to vote “No” on Wash­ing­ton Ini­tia­tive Mea­sure 976 in the Novem­ber 2019 gen­er­al election.

Pri­or to pass­ing the res­o­lu­tion, each coun­cilmem­ber offered a few com­ments in sup­port. Coun­cilmem­ber Deb­o­ra Juarez remarked that, in addi­tion to the argu­ments stat­ed in the WHEREAS claus­es, “statewide trans­porta­tion improve­ments have been hard-fought and are the result of great and par­ti­san work in the State and here in our tri-coun­ty region: Pierce, King, and Snohomish.”

I‑976 would “reverse the will of the peo­ple” for bet­ter tran­sit and bad­ly need­ed alter­na­tives to grid­locked high­ways like Inter­state 5.

Coun­cilmem­ber Lisa Her­bold not­ed that Seat­tle has been one of the few cities in the nation where tran­sit use has been on the upswing recent­ly, spurned by Sound Tran­sit and King Coun­ty Metro ser­vice expan­sion and improvement.

Yet, under I‑976, Seat­tle will lose approx­i­mate­ly 175,000 hours of bus ser­vice in 2020. That’s half of the ser­vice fund­ed by the vot­er-approved Seat­tle Trans­porta­tion Ben­e­fit Dis­trict. One-third of water taxi ser­vice is fund­ed through the trans­porta­tion ben­e­fit dis­trict, so that will be in jeop­ardy too.

Coun­cilmem­ber Kshama Sawant argued that “it would make exist­ing mea­sures more regres­sive.” She called for the pas­sage of a high-earn­ers income tax at the city lev­el to fund Seat­tle’s pub­lic ser­vices more equitably.

Coun­cilmem­ber Sal­ly Bagshaw thanked the Leg­is­la­ture for pass­ing trans­porta­tion fund­ing bills that have raised mon­ey for need­ed projects. Specif­i­cal­ly, she men­tioned work­ing with State Sen­a­tor Cur­tis King of East­ern Wash­ing­ton to secure progress for com­mu­ni­ties on both sides of the Cascades.

Coun­cilmem­ber Abel Pacheco empha­sized the need for trans­porta­tion fund­ing to com­ply with Vision 2050. He also humor­ous­ly called I‑976 “malarkey”.

Coun­cilmem­ber Tere­sa Mosque­da not­ed that that the pub­lic ser­vices we rely on to make sure our econ­o­my func­tions have to be fund­ed some­how. Busi­ness­es can’t get their goods to mar­ket and peo­ple can’t get where they need to go if our trans­porta­tion sys­tem is in disrepair.

Then the fun part came: Tim Eyman spoke in defense of Ini­tia­tive 976, ram­bling in front of City Coun­cil for sev­er­al min­utes while lam­bast­ing coun­cilmem­bers for hav­ing the audac­i­ty to offer peo­ple guid­ance on how to vote. Many activists held up NO on I‑976 signs behind Tim as he spoke, cre­at­ing a the­atri­cal atmosphere.

Tim Eyman surrounded by NO on I-976 signs
Tim Eyman speaks as oppo­nents of Ini­tia­tive 976 hold up signs oppos­ing his scheme to wipe out bil­lions in bipar­ti­san, vot­er-approved trans­porta­tion invest­ments (Seat­tle Channel)

Matthew Lang of the Tran­sit Rid­ers Union — who tes­ti­fied in oppo­si­tion to I‑976 along­side our founder ear­li­er this win­ter — deliv­ered a rejoin­der for the NO camp.

He re-empha­sized the thou­sands of good pay­ing, fam­i­ly wage jobs in the build­ing trades could be lost with the delay or can­cel­la­tion of essen­tial projects.

He also stressed the bus ser­vice in rur­al coun­ties that could be com­plete­ly gutted.

And he point­ed out that vehi­cle fees help ensure that Seat­tle, King Coun­ty, and oth­er juris­dic­tions can offer low fare pro­grams like ORCA LIFT to peo­ple on low or lim­it­ed incomes. Peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, high school stu­dents, and the elder­ly would all be affect­ed by the dis­con­tin­u­a­tion of ORCA LIFT.

Access to trans­porta­tion is one of the biggest mark­ers of priv­i­lege in this coun­try, Lang told the coun­cil. If you don’t have trans­porta­tion, you can’t get to work or around the city. He’s absolute­ly cor­rect. All Wash­ing­to­ni­ans deserve free­dom of mobil­i­ty. That’s why NPI is work­ing hard to defeat this destruc­tive measure.

Join us in vot­ing NO on Tim Eyman’s I‑976 by Novem­ber 5th, 2019.

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